Why great thinkers balance optimism and pessimism

Leaning too far in either direction is a recipe for stagnation and perhaps even failure.

  • When it comes to thinking about the future, is it best to assume the best or the worst? Like with most things, it's actually a little column A and a little column B. This video features theoretical physicists, futurists, sociologists, and mavericks explaining the pros and cons of both.
  • "In the long term optimists decide the future," argues Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick for Wired and the magazine's founding executive editor. "It's the optimist who create all of the things that are going to be most important in our life." Kelly adds that, while every car runs on an optimistic engine, "you certainly need breaks to steer it."
  • Finding a balance between the optimism that fuels innovation and a grounded pessimism is the key to a better future.

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Optimism Is the Engine That Moves Society Forward

Skepticism has a place, but it's optimists who decide the future, says Kevin Kelly.

The news certainly doesn't portray it this way, but every year the world becomes a better place, says Kevin Kelly. There is currently an imbalance in our optimism and pessimism levels, because we feel that things are catastrophic, despite most scientific evidence pointing the other direction. In this inspiring stream of thought, Kelly reminds us that society is constantly making progress, and that innovation is the direct result of optimism. Civilization is not a sweeping, heroic enterprise, he says, it’s a constant creep forward, and you only have to look behind you to see how far we've come.

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10 Human Body Modifications You Can Expect in the Next Decade

You are already a cyborg! Here's 10 ways you could merge even more with technology in the coming decade.

Industrial Revolution 2.0: First We Electrified, Then We Cognified

There's a new verb in town: cognify. We have far too much baggage with the word 'intelligence' so to fully embrace the second industrial revolution we need to start talking about artificial cognification.

If an object has a battery in it or a plug at the end of it, it won’t be long before that item is intelligent – although Kevin Kelly, the founder editor of WIRED, questions whether intelligence is really the word we want to be using. "It’s best I think to think of these intelligences as smartness instead of intelligence, because we have a lot of baggage with the idea of intelligence," says Kelly. He suggests a new verb: cognify, and also cognification. This is what Kelly terms the second industrial revolution. The first saw us put the power of muscle into objects in the form of energy – steam, gasoline, electricity – literally giving things like cars a certain amount of ‘horsepower’. Next, we will cognify anything that is electric. And if you think the first industrial revolution shook up the way we lived, just wait for the second one to fully set in. Kevin Kelly's most recent book is The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.

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Virtual Reality Will Trick You In Ways You’ll Like – and Ways You Won’t

When you take off a virtual reality headset, you don't remember seeing things, you recall experiencing them, says Kevin Kelly. VR will create a world of amazing opportunity – for us and for advertisers.

Get a life? Soon it will be that simple, says Kevin Kelly. Five years from now, Kelly anticipates that most of us will have a physical reality and a virtual one – and the second will be as social and kinetic as the first. Forget the idea of VR making us isolated slugs, he says, you will be challenged and connected. Of course for all the perceptive tricks it will play, it will also play commercial tricks. The price of this novelty is all your data, historical and biometric, and with that will come more advertising than ever. What is the beginning of a new dimension of fun, will be the end of privacy. Kevin Kelly's most recent book is The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.

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